Obama exhorts U.S., allies to bolster Arab Spring

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In Ireland, Obama explored his Irish ancestry on his mother’s side and spoke to throngs in Dublin about Ireland’s contributions to the world.

In England, he and his wife, Michelle were honored with all the pomp and ceremony of a state visit by Queen Elizabeth II, and he consulted with Prime Minister David Cameron about a range of foreign policy matters, including the war in Afghanistan and the Arab Spring movement.

Both men then headed to France for a two-day summit for leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations, which devoted considerable focus to how rich nations can help stabilize and foster democracy in this Arab Spring movement.

The president, who began his trip by exploring his Irish ancestry, at the end managed to find a Polish link as well, by virtue of his connections to Chicago’s large Polish population.

“If you come from Chicago and you haven’t become a little bit Polish, something’s wrong with you,” he joked.

Tusk, for his part, told Obama, “We feel in Poland that you are one of us.”

Tom Mann, a scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said Obama’s trip may have incrementally boosted his image with Americans as a leader on foreign policy but was “more of a boost for him among European leaders, which may help in pursuing U.S. interests in the Middle East and elsewhere.”

Obama had first planned to come to Poland last year for the funeral of President Lech Kaczynski, who was killed in a plane crash along with other Polish leaders. But Obama’s visit was scrapped six hours before his departure because of a volcanic ash cloud over Europe that disrupted air travel. The president visited a memorial to the 96 who died in the crash on his way out of town on Saturday.

After a long week with a crowded agenda, Obama seemed more than ready to head home. The tired-looking president paused midway through his answer to a Polish reporter to ask the man to repeat parts of his question.

The president had been counting down the days until his return to Washington.

“One more day,” he told reporters traveling with him Friday in France.

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Associated Press writers Julie Pace, Vanessa Gera and Monika Scislowska contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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